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Rainbow flag to fly on federal owned portion of Christopher Park June 1

Activists and federal officials are planning to gather on the first day of Pride Month for a long-awaited flag-raising ceremony

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Courtesy of Steven Love Menendez

By Matt Tracy | NEW YORK CITY – LGBTQ activists and federal officials will join together to install a permanent Rainbow Flag in the garden at Christopher Park on June 1, concluding a years-long effort by activists who fought to bring the Rainbow Flag to a slice of federal land near the Stonewall Inn.

Activists and federal officials are planning to gather at the park at 1 p.m. on the first day of Pride Month for a long-awaited flag-raising ceremony during which the Progress Pride Flag will be raised on a new flagpole on federal property. National Park Service Superintendent Shirley McKinney and activist Steven Love Menendez — who has maintained a temporary Rainbow Flagpole in the same area — will lead the flag up for the first time. Both the temporary flag and the upcoming flag feature National Parks Department branding.

Longtime LGBTQ activist Ann Northrop will host the ceremony on June 1. Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has been invited to serve as the keynote speaker and is expected to join if she can fit the event into her schedule, organizers said. A press release also praised the support of Tom Viola and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and noted that a singer could show up at the event.

In 2017, the Trump administration nixed plans for the National Park Service to dedicate a Rainbow Flag at the Stonewall National Monument by insisting that the site of the flagpole was on city land, not federal land. That same year, activist Michael Petrelis started reaching out to the Department of Interior to ask about installing a Rainbow Flag on federal land in the park.

Menendez wound up taking matters into his own hands when he installed a Rainbow Flag on federal land at the park. Menendez took the lead on caring for the flag and even re-applied for a permit every month to keep it there.

While the Trump administration was not helpful, activists tried again when President Joe Biden took office. The new administration ended up giving them assurances that a new flagpole and flag would be forthcoming.

The federal government opted to plant the permanent flag in the same place as the temporary flagpole.

“I’m very ecstatic because that flagpole ended up there through activism,” Menendez said in a phone interview with Gay City News.

Shirley McKinney, who is the superintendent of Manhattan Sites within the National Parks Service, told Gay City News that the new flagpole — which was installed last December — cost $5,500 and was funded by the National Parks Foundation. It is made of steel and brick and was designed to match the historic iron wrought fence along the park’s perimeter.

“They listened and decided to mirror what was done before,” Menendez said.

The new development represents a symbolic step forward for activists who have underscored their desire to see the Rainbow Flag on federal land. The flag is also symbolic to the countless visitors who have flocked to the area — and Menendez has witnessed its emotional impact.

“I’ve had moments where I’ve spoken to young trans people who cried in the park while taking pictures of the flag,” Menendez said. “They were saying how important it was for them. One trans person from Texas said they have nothing like this.”

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Matt Tracy is Gay City News’ editor-in-chief.

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The preceding piece was originally published by Gay City News and is republished with permission.

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New York

Long Island library reverses decision to pull LGBTQ Pride display & books

“The Board of Trustees reversed its decision to ban Pride displays & books in the children’s section! This happened because YOU spoke up!”

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Smithtown Library, Long Island NY (Smithtown Library Board/Facebook)

SMITHTOWN, Ny. – The Smithtown Library Board of Trustees met in an emergency session Thursday night to rescind its Tuesday vote to ban any and all displays related to LGBTQ Pride from kids’ areas at Smithtown Library buildings.

The Board’s Tuesday decision was met with anger and dismay including New York Governor Kathy Hochul who wrote on Twitter, “Our public spaces should be accepting our young people — not rejecting them.”

The New York Library Association had also issued a statement saying; “This ban of any displays related to Pride sets a dangerous precedent for libraries across the state because it normalizes the victimization of LGBTQ+ youth in their schools and in their communities, which has dire consequences.

The Hauppauge New York-based LGBT Network credited the onslaught of public anger and criticism including Governor Hochul’s as the mitigating factors in the reversal by the library board. The group also warned that there is a larger fight being waged that imperils LGBTQ+ youth.

“Tonight the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees reversed its decision to ban Pride displays and books in the children’s section of their library! This happened because YOU spoke up and spoke out! It is a reason to celebrate and demonstrates what our collective power can do. But it is also a wakeup call that the culture wars targeting LGBTQ youth are very much here in our backyard,” a statement on the group’s website noted.

“The reversal overall is good because it gets those books and displays back into the libraries,” LGBT Network vice president Robert Vitelli told local media after the library board reversed itself. “The commentary that went along with the votes shows there’s still a lot that needs to be done.”

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New York

Long Island library yanks LGBTQ+ Pride display & books from kids section

“Our LGBTQ youth are under attack- This isn’t Alabama or Florida or the bible belt — this is Long Island!”

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Library books on shelves at the Smithtown library main branch (Screenshot/Tube NBC New York)

SMITHTOWN, Ny. – A 4-2 vote Tuesday by the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees to ban any and all displays related to LGBTQ Pride from kids’ areas at Smithtown Library buildings, was met with anger and dismay including New York Governor Kathy Hochul who wrote on Twitter, “Our public spaces should be accepting our young people — not rejecting them.”

The New York Library Association issued a statement saying; “This ban of any displays related to Pride sets a dangerous precedent for libraries across the state because it normalizes the victimization of LGBTQ+ youth in their schools and in their communities, which has dire consequences.

According to The Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 40% LGBTQ respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, and more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth have seriously considered suicide.

Further, GLSEN’s School Climate Survey for LGBTQ+ Students in New York reported over 50%
of LGBTQ+ students experienced at least one form of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in their
schools. Although countless research points towards how public LGBTQ+ representation is life
saving for LGBTQ+ youth – only 28% of students in New York were taught positive
representations of LGBTQ+ people, history, or events.

“Our LGBTQ youth are under attack,” said Dr. David Kilmnick, the president and CEO of the New York LGBTQ Network. “This isn’t Alabama or Florida or the bible belt — this is Long Island!”

“You come after our kids, we’re going after you. We’re gonna replace you on the school boards, we’re gonna replace you on the library boards,” Kilmnick added.

Brianna Baker-Stines, the president of the library board, was similarly shocked and disappointed by the actions taken. She told NBC New York, “I was horrified by the display of ignorance at last night’s Board meeting. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I recognize the importance of access to diverse materials.”

The New York Library Association also signaled its support of the staff of library:

Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker said “I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone.”

“Earlier this year, when Florida was ramming destructive ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws through its State Legislature, I lamented the fact that this coordinated, nationwide assault on the LGBTQ+ community could soon arrive on our doorstep. Well, it’s here,” he said in a statement. “What transpired yesterday in Smithtown shows us that we cannot pull the wool over our own eyes for a moment longer by saying, ‘it won’t happen here.'”

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NYC LGBTQ+ groups protest DeSantis appearance at Chelsea Piers 

“The bottom line is Chelsea Piers is providing a venue to propagate hate toward the LGBTQ community and that is unacceptable on many levels”

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U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) poses with protestors outside Chelsea Piers (Photo credit: Rep. Carolyn Maloney/Twitter)

NEW YORK CITY – An appearance by anti-LGBTQ+ Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis speaking to the Jewish Leadership Conference at Chelsea Piers sparked protests Sunday by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and several elected officials including U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

The appearance by the Florida governor, who signed the state’s infamous ‘Don’t Say Gay Law’ and during a press conference last week where he also suggested he might urge the state’s child protective services to investigate parents who take their children to drag shows, was decried as insensitive and offensive during LGBTQ+ Pride month held every June to commemorate the 1969 LGBTQ+ uprising at the Stonewall Inn which is located about 2 miles away.

State Senator Brad Hoylman who represents Chelsea has joined other Democratic politicians and NYC leaders and urged Chelsea Piers to say no to hate and demagoguery: “The bottom line is Chelsea Piers is providing a venue to propagate hate toward the LGBTQ community and that is unacceptable on many levels, including that it is Pride and that it is in Chelsea, the heart of the community,” Hoylman said.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney tweeted her disgust at both the Florida Governor and Chelsea Piers:

In a tweet of his own DeSantis fired back at his critics:

The venue told the New York Times that it would be donating money to groups that support LGBTQ+ rights to mitigate the fallout. The Times reported the decision by Chelsea Piers to donate money has not mollified critics.

Other groups are canceling upcoming events at Chelsea Piers. Rich Ferraro, a spokesman for GLAAD, said his organization would “refrain from future events” at the complex, “given the platform that Chelsea Piers is giving to one of the most anti-L.G.B.T.Q. and dangerous politicians today.”

The Ali Forney Center, a group that works with homeless L.G.B.T.Q. youth in New York, said on Friday that it would no longer be holding a program there next month. “People are saying this issue is about freedom of speech, but it is not. It is in response to DeSantis silencing freedom of speech in schools,” the group’s president, Alex Roque, wrote in a statement.

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